U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) have announced they will introduce the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act at the start of the new Congress to significantly reduce prescription drug prices for Americans.
This bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make sure that Americans don’t pay more for prescription drugs than the median price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan.
If pharmaceutical manufacturers refuse to lower drug prices below that level, the federal government would approve cheaper generic versions of those drugs, regardless of any patents or market exclusivities in place.
According to the sponsors if this legislation were to become law, the median price of brand name prescription drugs could go down by more than 40 percent, and savings for certain brand name prescription drugs could be even greater.
Sounds like a starting point to put pressure on drug companies, but it is not without consequences?
We are placing our drug prices in the hands of foreign governments, for better or worse.
The 20 year patent protection timeframe is intended to allow companies recover their investment and more before there are competing generics. Can we have that protection along with the threat of early generics and lower prices?
The median price of drugs is not the problem, most drugs are affordable, it’s the outliers that are mostly the problem, especially specialty drugs. Take a look at the ten most expensive drugs in the US HERE
If indeed there is a 40% drop in prices, and hence in pharmaceutical company revenue, are their consequences for R&D to be considered? Keep in mind that the ability for other countries to limit what they pay, in part, is because the US market picks up some of the slack. What happens when that goes away?